You heard me: awesome. There are some mixed reviews floating around about the live action Transformers movie. My best guess as to why anyone would not like Transformers is that they went in expecting to see the cartoon with better animation. I can see this generating disappointment. However, looking back at other cartoons I enjoyed as a kid the trend that I’ve observed is that they aren’t nearly as good as I remember.
At any rate, I’ll start with the visual effects. There’s not really much to say about them because they were so clean you didn’t realize they were visual effects.
The story was definitely better than any of the episodes of the cartoon or the original animated movie. It was the black and white, good and evil kind of story that you might expect. I think I would have been annoyed if they tried to make it more complicated. They did add to the original setting in making the government frightened of and hostile toward these unknown entities. Hooray for common sense.
The characters were good. Although each character wasn’t exactly the same as in the show, I felt the characters were true in spirit. I also feel that the characters would have to be updated a bit to be accepted by people twenty years after they original show. Optimus Prime is a goodie two-shoes. Starscream is punk. Megatron is not a pistol. And yes, cry yourself to sleep fanboys, Bumblebee is a spunky Camaro. I could have done without the Camaro commercial and I felt the Autobots were a little too goofy in one scene were Sam is searching for a precious item. Given that these are my only complaints about the movie, I think it was done quite well.
I felt the overall presentation was very good. It was an updated story that took all of the best elements of the original show, gave nods to many of the good ones, and left behind most of the bad ones. Several times you hear an updated version of the original, famous transforming sound but you don’t hear it with every transformation. You get hints that Megatron and Starscream have a history of domestic violence but they manage to keep it together for the duration of the movie. In short, you’re given better flavors of the original series without attempts to show you the whole thing.
There is a significant computer/networking element in the movie. I give them credit for really trying to explain the computing issues in the movie. Overall, they did about as good as anyone can. To make the important facets of computer/network security clear to the audience you’d have to put them through a Survey of Computer Science course or something similar. They do a decent job of presenting the spirit of things. If you’re a computer geek, bite your tongue and be thankful that no one says they can “just see the code” or something similarly nonsensical.
I suspect that the cause of some people’s dislike for the new movie is how it deviates from the original show and possibly later shows and comics. I only watched the original show and the animated movie (and bought and played with the toys) so to some degree I don’t know what I’m missing. As I mentioned earlier, I suspect that if I went back and watched some episodes of the original show I would be disappointed. It’s also possible that if I watched the later shows and read the comics I’d see a depth of character and story that I’d feel the movie corrupts or contradicts. If that’s the case, I’d have to say “Oh well”. This isn’t a movie for Transformers historians, it’s a movie for the masses. If anything, I’m pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t really watered down. If you’re expecting to see the show, or the comics, or some amalgam thereof, you’ll probably be disappointed. If you just want to see an entertaining movie with good action, excellent effects, and a good story, pony up you $235 for the movie ticket.